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LITERARY    LIFE                       257
self-satisfaction, its creation was determined by a true creative impulse and not by love of money or fame. And because it was ostracized literature in respectable circles, it escaped the banal influence of all classical, conventional standards. So far from giving the author money or fame, the authorship of a novel could endanger a scholar's personal safety.
At Kiangyin, the home of Shih Nai-an, the author of All Men Are Brothers, there is still a legend about what Shih did in order to get himself out of trouble. In this Iegend3 Shih was credited with the gift of foreknowledge of events. He had written this novel, and was living in retirement, having refused to serve the new Ming Dynasty. One day the Emperor came with Liu Powen, Shih's classmate and now the Emperor's right-hand man. Liu saw the manuscripts of this novel on his table, and recognizing Shih's superior talent, Liu plotted for his ruin. It was a time when the security of the new dynasty was not yet ensured, and Shih's novel, advocating as it did the common "brotherhood of all men,'3 including the robbers, contained rather dangerous thoughts. So one day, on this basis, Liu petitioned the Emperor to have Shih summoned to the capital for trial. When the warrant came, Shih knew that his manuscripts had been stolen and realized that it would mean his death, so he borrowed five hundred taels from a friend with which to bribe the boatman and asked the latter to make the voyage as slowly as possible. Therefore on the way to Nanking he hurriedly composed a fantastic supernatural novel, the Fengshenpang* in order to convince the Emperor of his insanity. Under this cover of insanity, Shih saved his own life.
Thus surreptitiously the novel grew, like a wayward flower, casting its glance on the lonely wayfarer in a sheer effort to please. Like the wayward flower, too, impressively growing on the surface of a barren rock, it grew without cultivation, and it gave without expecting return, from a sheer inner creative impulse. Sometimes such a flower gives only a single blossom in a quarter of a century, but how that blossom shines! That blossom seems to be the justification for its existence; it has drained its life-blood and having blossomed, the flower dies. Such is the origin of all good tales and all good novels. So did
1 The authorship of this novel is really <jmknown.